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I was unable to upload it so I just copy and pasted...sorry!
Julie Brusa
Unit: Nutrition
Lesson: Cultural Cuisine

Students explore their own diets and how they've been influenced by their cultures.

Student Learning Objectives
Students will demonstrate the ability to:
Identify different grains and flours discuss how their diets have been influenced by their cultures

7.1N Select healthy foods and beverages in a variety of settings
1.4N Describe dietary guidelines, food groups, nutrients and serving sizes for healthy eating

Background (Teacher Sheet) (Discovery Communications)
What's the Grain? (Work Sheet)
Recipe for Fried Rice (
Fried Rice
Chop Sticks
Map of the world (
Culture and Food (Work Sheet)
plastic bags of samples of grain--rice, oats, corn, wheat, barley, millet, quinoa, triticale-- and as many of the corresponding
flours as possible
a map of the world
a mortar and pestle
enough tabouli for each student
a small bowl for each student
a plastic fork for each student
a napkin for each student


1. Read the teacher sheet, Background.

2. Number the plastic bags of grain and flour; keep a record of which number corresponds to which grain and flour. Display the grains and flours so that students can see all of them.

3. Adapt the work sheet, What's the Grain?, to the number of grains and flours you're bringing in; make a copy of the adapted work sheet for each student.

4. Display a map of the world.

5. Using the work sheet, Recipe for Fried Rice, make enough Fried Rice for all your students. Alternatively, bring in the ingredients and either make the Fried Rice in class or have students make it in stations. Make a copy of the work sheet for each student.

6. Make a copy of the work sheet, Culture and Food, for each student.

The Lesson

1. Tell students that they're going to explore the differences and similarities in people of other cultures, as well as the food habits of other cultures.

2. Explain to students that people need between 20 and 35 grams of fiber each day and that the incorporation of whole-grain foods in the diet is one of the best ways to accomplish that. Show students the display of the different rains and flours. Say that you'd like them to guess the identities of the different grains and flours. Provide a mortar and pestle so students can experiment with grinding the grain kernels. Consider telling students the different types you've brought in so that they need only to assign the type to the substance. Distribute the work sheet, What's the Grain?, and have students come up to inspect and try to identify the grains and flours. Say that they should keep their guesses to themselves.

3. Reveal the identities of the grains and flours. Ask students how they did. Referring to the map of the world, point out the origins of some of the grains and flours:
Iran, from around 9,000 B.C.--wheat, barley, oats
South Mexico and Central America, from around 7,000 B.C.--corn
China, from around 5,500 B.C.--rice, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, barley

4. Focus discussion on the following questions:
"Which grains and flours do you eat most frequently?"
"Where in the world do you think those grains and flours come from?"
"How do you think your family started eating those particular grains and flours?"
"Which of the grains that you mentioned do you eat as whole grains?"

5. Distribute the work sheet, Culture and Food, and have students complete it in partner groups.

6. After everyone is finished, ask volunteers to share what their partners wrote.

7. Hand out the Fried Rice for students to sample (may add chop sticks), and distribute the work sheet, Recipe for Fried Rice. Encourage students to make the Fried Rice at home.

8. Point out to students that they've all been influenced by their cultures--and not only in their diets. Ask them to discuss with family members other ways they've been influenced.
Grades 6-9 2
Background Information:

Cultural Influences on our Food Choices
Many of our eating habits arise from the traditions, belief systems, technologies, values, and norms of the culture in which we live. For example, in the United States and Canada, the idea of eating insects is generally considered repulsive. But many people throughout the rest of the world relish dishes prepared with various bugs, including locust dumplings (northern Africa), red-ant chutney (India), water beetles in shrimp sauce (Laos), and fried caterpillars (South Africa).
One of the ways in which people of different cultures often come together to share their heritage is by sampling each other’s traditional foods. American consumers are particularly fortunate in that they don’t have to travel far to get a taste of the food of different cultures. Ethnic cuisines ranging from Chinese to Mexican to Italian to Indian have become embedded in American culture.

Grains Commonly Eaten by Some Nationalities
Arabian—couscous, millet, pita, rice, bulgur
Cuban—rice, cornmeal, wheat flour
Chinese—rice, cellophane noodles, oval grain, long grain, rice vermicelli, congee, rice sticks, rice wheat buns
Indian—rice, basmati rice, roti, chapati, millet, naan, partha, suji, khichiri, dosa, idli, pooha, upma, sabudana, pita bread, bulgur wheat
Italian—rice, pasta, focaccia, polenta, Italian bread
Japanese—rice, soy flour, bean noodles, buckwheat noodles, wheat flour noodles, sweet rice flour, white noodles, ramen noodles
Mexican—rice, rolls, corn or flour tortillas, posole (hominy), sopa, noodles
Portuguese—rolls, rice, flour, farina, barley, cornmeal, vermicelli, pao (country bread), broa (yeast-raised cornbread)
Russian—oats, rice, wheat, farina, buckwheat, rye and wheat breads
Thai—rice, rice noodles, egg noodles, mung bean noodles, tapioca, rice vermicelli

Dietary Practices of Some Religious Groups
Buddhists Dietary customs vary depending on sect. Many are lacto-ovo-vegetarians, since there are restrictions on taking a life. Some eat fish, and others eat no beef. Monks fast at certain times of the month and avoid eating solid food after the noon hour.
• Hindus All foods thought to interfere with physical and spiritual development are avoided. Many are lacto-vegetarians or avoid alcohol. The cow is considered sacred—an animal dear to the Lord Krishna. Beef is never consumed, and often pork is avoided.
• Jews Kashrut is the body of Jewish law dealing with foods. The purpose of following the complex dietary laws is to conform to the Divine Will as expressed in the Torah. The term kosher denotes all foods that are permitted for consumption. To “keep kosher” means that the dietary laws are followed in the home. There is a lengthy list of prohibited foods, called treyf, which include pork and shellfish. The laws define how birds and mammals must be slaughtered, how foods must be prepared, and when they may be consumed. For example, dairy foods and meat products cannot be eaten at the same meal. During Passover, special laws are observed, such as the elimination of any foods that can be leavened.

• Mormons Alcoholic drinks and hot drinks (coffee and tea) are avoided. Many Mormon also avoid beverages containing caffeine. Mormons are encouraged to limit their intake of meat and emphasize grains in their diet.
• Muslims Overeating is discouraged, and consuming only two-thirds of capacity is suggested. Dietary laws are called halal. Prohibited foods are called haram, and they include pork and birds of prey. Laws define how animals must be slaughtered. Alcoholic drinks are not allowed. Fasting is required from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan.
• Roman Catholics Meat is not consumed on Fridays during Lent (40 days before Easter). No food or beverages (except water) are to be consumed one hour before taking communion.
• Seventh-Day Adventists Most Seventh-Day Adventists are lacto-ovo-vegetarians. If meat is consumed, pork is avoided. Tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages are not allowed. Water is not consumed with meals, but is drunk before and after meals. Followers refrain from using seasonings and condiments. Overeating and snacking are discouraged.

Food Cultures around the World
Many different types and combinations of foods can be used to nourish the body. This becomes evident when studying various cultures and noting the differences in early native diets. But perhaps most interesting is the striking similarity in the nutritional composition of many native diets throughout the world.
Since the dawn of agriculture, people have relied on a dietary staple rich in complex carbohydrates, most commonly a grain such as rice, corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, oats, buckwheat, or millet. In some cultures, the primary staple is a starchy root such as potatoes, yams, cassava (tapioca), or taro. According to anthropologists, carbohydrate sources provide more than half of the world’s calories, even today. In addition to this dietary core of complex carbohydrates, most cultures include a high-protein legume such as peas, beans, peanuts, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or lentils. Examples of this mix include red beans and corn tortillas in Mexico; bean curd, mung beans and rice in Japan; wheaten bread accompanied by hummus (chickpea paste) in the Middle East; and, in Caribbean countries, rice or millet paired with red or black beans.

Q and A

Q. What exactly is soul food?

A. Soul food is a term that was coined in the mid-1960’s to promote ethnic pride and solidarity among African-Americans. But the origins of soul food date back to a much earlier time in history. Black-eyed peas, grits (coarsely ground cornmeal), collard greens, okra, and other soul foods evolved from the traditional diet of West African slaves living in the South. When West Africans were brought to the United States to work the fields, their dietary habits revolved around the foods provided by slave owners. Corn was commonly given as a staple, and the slaves prepared it in many forms, such as grits, cornmeal pudding, and hominy (hulled, dried corn kernels with certain parts removed). Salt pork was also frequently a staple supplied to the slaves, so pork fat was used to fry and flavor greens, breads, stews, and other foods. In addition, some owners allowed their slaves to grow vegetables in small plots. Okra and black-eyed peas, two West African favorites, were introduced in the United States by the slaves who farmed such plots, and American vegetables, including cabbage, collard and mustard greens, sweet potatoes, and turnips, were often grown as well.

Q. I see lots of foods marked “kosher” in the supermarket, especially during Jewish holidays such as Passover. Are kosher foods healthier than non-kosher foods?

A. Food is part of the symbolism and traditions of many major religions. In the predominantly Christian United States, most people’s eating habits are not dictated by religion to a large extent.
During the past few decades, however, kosher foods have been growing in popularity among Americans of many different religious backgrounds. For instance, bagels are one of the fastest growing breakfast foods in the United States.

Most of the traditional Jewish foods eating in America come from a particular group known as Ashkenazic Jews—Jews from central and eastern European countries such as Russia, Germany, Poland, and Romania. Although few Jewish people in the United States strictly abide by all the dietary laws Judaism prescribes, many adhere to at least some of the rules of kashrut, biblical ordinances specifying which foods are kosher, or fit to eat.

Foods labeled kosher are not necessarily healthier than their unmarked counterparts. Instead, the designation indicates that a food has been prepared in accordance with the basic tenets of kashrut. For example, one principle of kashrut is separation of milk and meat products, meaning that an item containing, say, both ground beef and cheese would not be kosher.
Another tenet is the selection of appropriate meat, poultry, and seafood items: Only animals with cloven hooves who chew their cud are allowed—cattle, sheep, goats, and deer. Chicken, turkey, goose, pheasant, and duck can be kosher, but birds of prey cannot, and seafood with both fins and scales can be kosher, while shellfish cannot.

As a result of the salting process used to prepare kosher animal foods, many traditional Jewish foods are high in sodium. Herring, smoked fish, canned beef, tongue, corned beef, and other deli-style meats are examples. Other traditional Jewish foods, many of which are high in fat, include schmaltz (chicken fat), knishes (potato pastry filled with ground meat or potato), cream cheese, and chopped liver.
Fried Rice (
Serves 4 to 6

This is a basic recipe for fried rice that you can add to as desired. If adding other ingredients, increase the number of eggs to 3.
Need a bit of help? Here are step by step photo instructions showing how to make basic fried rice.
• 1 - 2 green onions, as desired
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Pepper to taste
• 4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
• 4 cups cold cooked rice
• 1 - 2 tablespoons light soy sauce or oyster sauce, as desired
Wash and finely chop the green onion. Lightly beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.

Heat a wok or frying pan and add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggs. Cook, stirring, until they are lightly scrambled but not too dry. Remove the eggs and clean out the pan.

Add 2 tablespoons oil. Add the rice. Stir-fry for a few minutes, using chopsticks or a wooden spoon to break it apart. Stir in the soy sauce or oyster sauce as desired.

When the rice is heated through, add the scrambled egg back into the pan. Mix thoroughly. Stir in the green onion. Serve hot.

Name: Date: Period:

Guess the name of each of the grains displayed in the classroom as well as its country of origin.

Guessed Name Real Name Guessed Origin Real Origin






Name: Date: Period:
Culture and Food

Ask your interview partner the following questions and record the responses. Then have your partner ask you the same questions and record your answers.

1. Name a holiday that your family celebrates with a special meal.

2. Name two foods that are typically served at that meal.

3. What specific food or beverage were you given when you were younger and sick with a cold, the flu, or other illness?

4. Name two foods that were typically served at birthday parties when you were growing up.

5. What other traditions does your family have around food?

6. Would you continue some or all of these traditions when you’re an adult?
Yes or No and Why? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________


Anonymous (not verified)
Anonymous's picture
Message from cchin

This is a great lesson plan and will be a nice way to teach about all the different foods from around the world!

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from bshapiro

I once taught a class of students who were all recently moved to California from Mexico and spoke zero English. One day I brought in some food to make salad and sandwiches and taught them how to do so in English. It was probably the kids favorite day of the year and the next week they all started bringing in food from home and sharing it with me. Food knows no boundaries!